Barbara Alink; The Alinker Inventions Ltd.; The Story Exchange; MedicalYour Name: Barbara Alink

Business Name: The Alinker Inventions Ltd., a maker of a mobility vehicle

Type of Business: Design/Medical

Business Location: Breda, Netherlands

Twitter @theAlinker

Reason for starting
In fact I had long started before I realized I had in fact started a business. It started with a comment of my mum about one day having to use one of those, pointing at a rollator, but then added: “over my dead body I’ll use one of those!” STIGMA. I decided I can make a change for the problem just identified with current assistive devices like rollators, canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Half of the people who should use some kind of mobility aid, are currently not using it due to the stigma attached to available devices. They then are at risk of falling, or no exercise. Why do other people have the option to buy a cool bike, but when you ‘need’ a device, you are doomed to clinical looking, badly designed models. That just goes against everything I feel is just. I am a designer and so I could do something else… I listed the problems, solved them, then combined all the solutions. That resulted in the Alinker.

How do you define success?
Success ultimately is when people ‘get it’ that I am doing the business because I deeply believe that thousands of people can benefit from using the Alinker. When I can inspire others to understand that my happiness is defined by the kind of member I am of our larger community, my happiness is defined by who I am, not by what I have. Ultimately I am successful when I can look in the mirror at night and truly like the person I see. When I live up to my own motto: I do because I can.

Biggest Success
Established the support network to date with all the positive responses about the Alinker I have received. When I look back at the past 1.5 years, the time since I started the attempts to make the first prototype of the Alinker, to now, I realize the incredible support and network that is now surrounding the Alinker Inventions Ltd. People are involved and inspired.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Being alone with everything until I found (and ongoing) the right people to create the team with. To find people who put their actions where their words are. People I can trust and rely on, people who have good values. I invested endless time and efforts in networking. The networking I did was through competitions, professional seminars etc. When I introduce myself, I am clear in who I am, what my vision is and what I aim to achieve, so that people who are interested to be associated with me, know exactly what I stand for. I am very straight forward so people who are not real or just about appearances, often shy away naturally.

Who is your most important role model?
In general I have always looked up to people who were non-conformists, people who talk about ‘we’ and not talk about ‘I’. People who understand that a team effort is more important than an ego. People who act, regardless what people say, what they believe in. People who do not judge others, as they do not like to be judged themselves. Authentic people, motivated by their own inner compass. If I have to mention a name of someone I admire who is famous then I would have to say Richard Branson